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After Years Of Anticipation, 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Opens Tonight

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - it's pretty hard to miss that the movie is opening tonight. In fact, one fan has been camped out at Hollywood theater since December 5. MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan fought his way into a screening with his light saber. Here's his review.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS")

ANDY SERKIS: (As Supreme Leader Snoke) There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: That's the voice of the archvillain in "The Force Awakens." He's not talking about the huge stirring of public interest in the most hotly-anticipated film since "Gone With The Wind," but he might as well be. But can all those true believers - all the people who bought millions of dollars in advance tickets - could they be wrong? No, they're not wrong - but they can be only half right. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has an erratic, haphazard quality to it. It's at its best in fits and starts, depending on which of its mix of franchise veterans and first-time star warriors is on the screen. Sometimes the force is with this film; sometimes it decidedly is not. "The Force Awakens" takes place 30 years after "Return Of The Jedi." The evil Empire has been replaced by the even more ruthless First Order, the Republic continues to fight the good fight, and everyone wonders where Luke Skywalker has been hiding for all these years. And if those sound like cliches, that's because this movie runs on them. Director J.J. Abrams and his writers have come up with several new characters. The best of these is the courageous daredevil Rey, radiantly played by Daisy Ridley. Then there's the reformed storm trooper Finn, a rootless soldier played by John Boyega.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS")

JOHN BOYEGA: (As Finn) I was ready to do one thing. But I've got nothing to fight for.

TURAN: At its best, however, "The Force Awakens" basks in the presence of the altogether splendid veteran Harrison Ford, who has a full-fledged, rip-roaring leading role here. It's too bad all of "The Force Awakens" doesn't have his skill and style, but even in galaxies far, far away, things don't always go as planned. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.